How to make southern sweet tea

How To Make Southern Sweet Tea

Southern Sweet tea is one of the most popular iced-tea consumed in the United States and Indonesia (Reference: Sweet Tea, Wikipedia, Retrieved on 1 January 2023). It is always served with ice and comes with additional flavours of lemon, mint, peach, raspberry. Sweet tea is considered as the regional staple drink of southern United States (Location - the Southern United States, Google Maps, Retrieved on 1 January 2023)  and Indonesia (Location - Bali Indonesia, Google Maps, Retrieved on 1 January 2023).

What is Southern Sweet Tea?

Original Southern Sweet tea is made with black tea but there have been many variations invented to bring colour to the party - White teaOolong TeaGreen Tea and the latest fad of chamomile tea

In this article, we have tried to answer the following questions.

  • Why is Southern Sweet Tea Special?
  • What are the ingredients?
  • What is the equipment required?
  • How to make Southern sweet tea?
  • What Factors affect the taste of Southern Sweet Tea?
  • What are the Tips & Tricks?


    How to make southern sweet tea

    Southern Sweet Tea and other Iced Tea Recipe, Snappy LivingGoogle Images, licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Why is Southern Sweet Tea, special?

    The southern states of the United States take pride in their sweet tea which can be sweet or unsweet. It is always served iced and sweet version is preferred way more than the sugarless one. Even now when everyone is flocking for diet conscious recipes, southern sweet tea is the treasured regional recipes and has been passed through generations. Southern sweet tea, being a tradition, has many memories associated with it and those are as sweet as the iced tea drink can get (Reference: How to make Southern-style Sweet Tea, Williams Sonoma, Retrieved on 1 January 2023). 

    Why is Southern Sweet Tea Special?

    Sweet Southern Sorghum Iced Tea with Citrus, Go Dairy FairyGoogle Images, licensed under CC BY 2.0


    • 10-12 Black tea Bags
    • Sugar syrup
    • Ice cubes
    • Lemon slices and or mint leaves (optional)
    • Filtered Water

    Ingredients of Southern Sweet tea

    Southern Sweet Tea, African BitesGoogle Images, licensed under CC BY 2.0


    How to make Southern Sweet Tea?

    • Fill the water in a kettle or big pan and bring the water to boil
    • Remove the water from heat and drop the tea bags into the kettle. 
    • Allow the tea steep for at least 15-20 minutes
    • Pull out the tea bags after pressing them against the kettle wall to drain out the black tea (Reference - Southern Sweet Tea Recipe, Addapinch, Retrieved on 1 January 2023). Put sugar syrup into the tea and mix it well

    Southern Sweet Tea

    Southern Style Strawberry Sweet TeaSlim Pickins KitchenGoogle Images, licensed under CC BY 2.0

    What are the factors to consider, to make the best Southern Sweet Tea?

    Choose the perfect tea

    • It is very important to choose the right Black tea for the Southern Sweet Tea. Always prefer the one made specifically for iced tea.
    • The brewing technique matters a lot. Adding the tea bags while boiling water is a disaster and can lead to bursting of teabags. Don’t steep the tea bags for more than 15 minutes irrespective of the fact that you might want the tea to be stronger as the chances of tea turning bitter is quite high. 
    • The iced tea made out of iced tea bags don’t turn cloudy when refrigerated and in case you don't find one, then add baking soda to the hot water to avoid the cloudy look of the Southern Sweet tea (Reference - Southern Sweet Tea, Garden Betty, Retrieved on 1 January 2023).

    Choose the right sweetener

    The sweetener here doesn’t mean the artificial sweetener but the real deal you want to use to sweeten up your Southern Sweet Tea. Adding sugar to cold water and then expecting it to dissolve well is a disaster. Make a simple syrup by boiling water and sugar for 10-15 minutes. The sugar syrup is faster to dissolve in cold water as compared to powdered sugar.

    Use filtered water

    Although there is no harm in using the normal drinking water, using filtered water makes Southern Sweet Tea taste better.

    Don't mix hot and cold

    Let the sweet tea reach room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator. Placing the Southern Sweet tea in the fridge while it’s still warm will make it appear cloudy (Reference - Making the Best Southern Sweet Tea, Southern Kitchen, Retrieved 1 January 2023)

    Southern Style Sweet Fruit Tea Three WaysThe Spruce EatsGoogle Images, licensed under CC BY 2.0 

    Tips and Tricks

    • The Southern Sweet Tea can be refrigerated for almost 1 week. So just assemble big pitchers and pour it in.
    • Do not use cold water, use water at room temperature. The ice cubes will do the work of making your tea cold.
    • Do not add ice to hot tea, rather pour the tea to the glass of water and ice cubes. 
    • Never put lemon pieces in the Southern Sweet Tea. Simply squeeze a lemon in the pitcher and throw the lemon layer away. The lemon slices can be kept on the side of the glass. hope that you thoroughly enjoyed the above research we have tried to put together in terms of Southern Sweet Tea. In case of questions or suggestions please let us know in comments below or write to us on and we would be more than happy to assist you.

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    This is the best sweet tea ever, thats what my 3 year old said. i used 2 family size tea bags since that what i had. i didnt pour the hot tea into my glass jar, i was afraid it would break. so i boiled 2 cups of water in a large pot, removed from the heat and added the baking soda & tea bags covered and let sit for 15 mins. then i added the sugar and when it was desolved i added the 6 cups of cold water. then i poured it into my glass jug.

    Ryan Angie

    I would give this recipe 100 stars if I could!!! I am in love with McDonalds sweet tea. I would go every morning after I dropped the kids off at school and buy 2 large teas with no ice. I would grab a drink here and there!! I would crave it if I didn’t have any left!! Well sorry Mcdonalds!! You have met your match!! I double this recipe and make a gallon of sweet joy!! I love the baking soda trick. It really does keep the tea clear and not bitter. Thank you so much for this recipe!!!

    Divine Goddess

    Pouring boiling water into a glass pitcher (even a “heat-proof” one) is a recipe for disaster. The glass will crack/shatter. The best thing to do is to pour it into a plastic container first and then put it in the glass pitcher after it has cooled.

    Mark Swang

    Some of my family members are not sweet tea drinkers, they prefer their iced tea unsweetened so I tried the pinch of baking soda in unsweetened tea and it seemed to be just as effective at smoothing the bitterness and preventing it from getting cloudy. Thanks for the tip!

    Chellebelle Gautam

    The baking soda is the key ingredient in this recipe to make a smooth tea. It helps to cut the bitter taste that you can get from tea. It’s really refreshing and for me it has the right amount of sweetness. Thx.


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